French regulator rules against Eutelsat

Inmarsat is committed to using a network of ground-based repeater stations to augment its S-band in-flight capacity, and to boost connectivity for airline passengers. Eutelsat and ViaSat of California have their own plans for similar aircraft services, and had objected to the Inmarsat plan.

France’s ARCEP (Autorité de Régulation des Communications Électroniques et des Postes) the independent regulator for radio spectrum, has authorised the use by Inmarsat of its European Aviation Network (EAN) together with its associated complementary ground components.

The permission is granted until 2027. The UK’s regulator Ofcom granted its permission last October.

Inmarsat (with Deutsche Telekom and Nokia) is building about 300 of these repeater stations across Europe, scattered from Norway and Sweden in the North to Portugal in the West and Greece in the East. 50 such base stations will be established in France. Inmarsat says services will start within months.

Inmarsat’s EAN capacity was launched as part of the Arabsat/HellasSat-3 satellite launched to 39 degrees East in June 2017 and entered service last September.

Eutelsat says it is considering its next legal steps.

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